CHA: The First Step in Helping is Learning How to Help

Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) is using a federal grant to allow its health personnel to go into communities and train individuals on how to assist someone facing a mental health crisis.
While much attention has been paid to the shortcomings of the behavioral health system in dealing with those seeking care, studies show that only 2 in 5 people needing help actually seek treatment. Friends and family members of the potential patient may not know what to do to help.
Through a program funded by U.S. Health & Human Service’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), CHA is offering free “Mental Health First Aid” training in community settings in Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Medford, Revere, Somerville and Winthrop.
CHA’s Community Health Improvement Department is partnering with community organizations to ensure broad reach and access for adults, children and veterans.
Mental Health First Aid is an eight-hour certification training that provides individuals with the skills to assist someone facing a mental health crisis, just as CPR helps those having a heart attack. Trainees will learn a five-step action plan that guides them through the process of reaching out and offering support.
“When we observe someone having a health crisis like a heart attack, or car accident, we don’t hesitate to offer some sort of aid,” noted Jaime Lederer, MSW, MPH, who directs the grant program at CHA. “People are sometimes less comfortable responding to a mental health crisis – someone experiencing anxiety, severe depression or substance misuse. Mental Health First Aid gives laypeople the knowledge and skills they need to provide assistance and refer people for further help.”
To learn more about CHA’s mental health & substance use services, including Mental Health First Aid training, click here.